Holm Friebe and Philipp Albers delivered a presentation at LIFT on a topic that’s close to my heart: the future of work, exploring new forms of self-organizing “unorganizations” of creative free agents. Of course, I’ve been thinking about similar issues as I consider how to scale Remarkk! Consulting, so I took particular interest and had a great conversation with the guys over fondue. (which, btw, is the best part of LIFT!)
Friebe’s book, Wir nennen es Arbeit (“We call it work”) is a bestseller in Germany that has been described as “youth economic manifesto”. They organized a conference in Berlin also called Wir nennen es Arbeit Festival-Camp, which looked like tremendous fun and is possible inspiration for a Toronto FreeAgentCamp or Future of Work conference. These guys apparently invented Powerpoint Karaoke (fact check anyone?), and put on events like a poetry slam with sms voting and electro-shock feedback. They are looking to develop coworking spaces to accommodate their starfish adhocracy. This is not your father’s creative agency.
Presentation notes after the jump…
Digital Bohemia: The end of work as we know it; people want to work in new structures; how do you integrate individuals with strong sense of self-determination, people fed up with hierarchies; The Penguin Paradox.
Their “company” is called Zentrale Intelligenz Agentur (Central Intelligence Agency) which they describe as “a capitalist-socialst joint venture, designed to establish new forms of collaboration”. People are contributing in Berlin and around the world. They described the operating principles with seven (or so) rules.
Rule 1, The 7 Nos – No office. No employees. No fixed costs. No pitches. No exclusivity (company doesn’t own your life). No working hours (results only). No bullshit.
Rule 2: Work-Work Balance – balance projects for clients with your passion projects, given equal priority and attention.
Rule 3: Instant Gratification – profit immediately with work; no salaries, billable time/project, always keep 10% of profit for the company for play money; pay bills immediately as well
Rule 4: Pluralism of Methods – tech solutions for social problems, use online tools for collaboration; Skype, Google calendar, Google Docs
Rule 5: Fixed Ideas – live up to your intellectual obsessions and dark desires at work; take them seriously; don’t be afraid to offend people;
Rule 6: Responsibilities Without Hierarchies – each project as to have one person incharge, but it can be anybody; beginning of year retreat in the country; rethink the business model; sift through projects and leaders take them on;
Rule 7: The Power of Procrastination – don’t try to be too efficient; good deas will adapt and catch on, even if you neglect them for a while; they have to ripen; there is a natural Darwinism of ideas
Rule 7.5: Marketing by Feuilleton – no adverstising, no PR; do something interesting and press coverage will be yours; they get coverage in the culture section
Conclusion – A Hedonistic Company not only changes the nature of work, it shifts the domain of that work.